The San Francisco Giants made the first official signing of the MLB offseason which got underway Friday night. The team inked left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a 2-year, 8 million dollar deal. The 29 year-old went 1-1 with an impressive 3.33 ERA (1.77 away from Cincinnati) along with an impressive 80 strikeouts in 78 innings of work. Affeldt has really come into his own over the last 2 years, pitching in 2 of the National Leagues toughest places to pitch (Colorado then Cincinnati), and is becoming one of the better left-handed set-up men in baseball. $4 million a year is a little steep for a reliever who isn't closing games but Affeldt has a rubber arm (former starter), is just entering his prime and in my opinion was the top lefty reliever available outside of only Brian Fuentes. The Giants also were in on Joe Beimel, who has a combined 2.87 era over the last 3 seasons, but Affeldt is better at stranding runners than the former Dodger and can be used for more than 1 inning at a time.
Adding Affeldt now gives the Giants two solid left-handed relievers along with Alex Hinshaw, and now they are going to likely add another righty or two to go along with Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, and, if healthy, Merkin Valdez. They have apparently had talks with representatives for Juan Cruz, who's likely out of the Giants price range now with Affeldt in the mix, as well as David Weathers. I know Weathers brings a veteran consistency with him and is still effective at age 38, but I would rather see them go with what they have then bring another reliever on the downside of their career as they did with Tyler Walker last season. I would rather see them invest in someone who has a high upside like Brandon Lyon or Jorge Julio on incentive laden deals rather than give multi-year deal's away to aging veterans. I also am intrigued at the thought of looking into Mark Prior and convincing him to move to the pen. He's said all along that he's not interested, but since he hasn't been healthy in almost 4 years, and after witnessing Kerry Wood's success last year, he may be more open to it now.
The Giants are also busy going after everyday players as well, and one guy who insiders are starting to think will become an actuality is Rafael Furcal. I've mentioned Furcal here a few times and have brought up my fear of him becoming the next Edgardo Alfonzo if he came to San Francisco. He's always been a good, sometimes great shortstop, but he's recently started to battle nagging injuries. I would not give the guy a four-year deal, but if healthy and if they can get him for 2-3 years at 10 million per, then he may be worth the gamble. At this point, and again if healthy, Furcal is still a top 5 NL shortstop and probably will be for the next couple of seasons. The potential top of the order that includes Furcal and Fred Lewis is also intriguing as those two can hit for average and power while causing havoc on the base paths. It looks like Furcal and Orlando Hudson (also has been linked to the Giants) are both commanding nearly the same amount of money and years and between the two, Furcal's upside is a lot higher than Hudson's, so if Brian Sabean is dead set on signing a middle infielder, I'd rather it be Furcal. And although it's not likely to happen, the Giants have said that they've approached both C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira's agent about their services. While neither of those two are coming to SF, that does show me that the Giants' new ownership may be a little more inclined to spend than we all thought. They aren't going to get Tex or C.C. but if they don't get either Furcal or somelike like Pat Burrell or Adam Dunn, I'd be surprised. They feel that they are closer to competing in this division than people expect them to be and who knows, in the ever changing NL West, a couple of good add's could end up in a trip to October.
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